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House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

The House resumed from November 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, an act to to establish the Canadian Tourism Commission, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of point. I understand appropriate discussions with other parties have taken place and I seek the unanimous consent of the House to complete the speaking period of my colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The House has heard the request for unanimous consent from the hon. member for Bras d'Or—Cape Breton. Is it agreed?

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to rise and replace my colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre.

My colleague and I are both in agreement to support Bill C-5, an act to establish the Canadian tourism commission.

As many members will already know, the Canadian tourism commission was actually founded in 1992 after an extensive consultation with various stakeholders in the tourism industry across Canada. At that time, when the former government was trying to get the commission up and running quickly, government and industry agreed that the CTC should be created as a special operating agency instead of a crown corporation.

Special operating agency basically means that it has all of the responsibility and none of the authority. The CTC was responsible for running the program but it was the deputy minister of tourism who was responsible for the administration. Because of the speech with which the CTC was originally created, it missed a whole bunch of key points and operations were often held back because of the bureaucratic nightmare that was created.

There were some marketing operations that had to sit around for months because they were going through the bureaucratic sign-off process which required 13 signatures. By the time they got to their signatures circumstances had almost always changed.

One could spot the potential for problems a mile away. Government contract issuance processes were just too slow to keep up with the rapid changes that occur in the tourism industry. Business does not have to be allowed to move much more quickly whether it is in the private or public realm.

My colleagues and I in the NDP support the move from a special operating agency to a crown corporation provided that the government provide the tourism board the support it will require to fulfil its objectives.

The development and accomplishments of the Canadian tourism commission is a unique and promising model of a private-public partnership. The tourism industry currently provides over two-thirds of the funding for the commission's operations.

Labour relations will move from the Public Service Employment Act to the Canada Labour Code, and while existing bargaining units will be merged, there will be a one year transition in eligibility for public service competitions and grievance procedures.

The tourism industry supports the change, the provinces support the change and the staff support the change. I believe that today in the House we should be able to co-operate and put Bill C-5 through the House as quickly as possible. One only wishes every government policy with respect to tourism was as beneficial for the industry as this one.

I take this opportunity to remind the House of the sudden and hurtful changes which our two airlines made with respect to their commissions for international ticket sales. This change alone threatens some 7,500 jobs in small communities across the country.

Basically the two airlines got together to set the new commission structure and informed the travel agents. I repeat, the two airlines got together to set the new pricing structure. Then, when the travel agents' association wanted to meet with the airlines to discuss the rate structure, it was threatened with anti-competition charges under the Competition Act by the very same airline. In other words, the Competition Act could be used by the airlines to bully small businesses, but where oh where is that act now that the big airlines are in trouble? Talk about a Liberal double standard.

Another point that I feel I must make in this debate on tourism comes more in the form of a warning. The preamble to Bill C-5 sets out the vitality of the tourism industry to the social and cultural identity of Canada. While I do not wish to necessarily disagree with this statement, it must be somewhat qualified. It is not tourism that is going to safeguard our identity. Instead, it is our distinct social and cultural identity as Canadians that will safeguard the continued interest for tourists in Canada.

Tourism can never be more than and certainly never less than an integral part of our economy. A well-balanced and vibrant economy of scale cannot be built upon tourism alone. I make this point because it is extremely important for us in Cape Breton to remember this at a time when our federal government is telling us that tourism will be our saviour.

Tourism also rides economic roller coasters, the big economic ones and the smaller seasonal variations. It is important to note that while we acknowledge the increased dollar figures generated in Cape Breton, from $211 million to $230 million this year which will make tourism one of the important factors in rebuilding our shattered economy, it is by no means the only or the whole answer.

As some of my hon. colleagues may already know, we, the NDP caucus members from Nova Scotia, have been working with tourism operators across the maritime provinces. We are facing a situation of a monopolistic food supplier if the Sobey's-Oshawa group merger goes ahead. This merger could potentially spell disaster for the restaurants, bed and breakfast establishments and hotels that are price-takers from their food suppliers. If the merger goes ahead there will be virtually no competition in that sector. I think I could elicit support from just about any part of the House that a situation where no controls or competition is in place could spell disaster for the people who depend on these suppliers.

Nearly 77,000 people are directly or indirectly employed by tourism operators in Nova Scotia. The fact that the government has taken no initiative toward protecting the interests of small businesses that will potentially be hurt by the merger is yet another example of the federal Liberals abandoning the interests of working people.

While I feel I must support the passage of Bill C-5, I do not do this without some reservations with regard to the Liberal government's policies toward tourism and tourist operators. I do not feel that the Liberal government supports tourist operators, especially those who are small business owners and employees.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her speech. I would like to ask her how Bill C-5, an act to establish the Canadian Tourist Commission, would be different from what the Canadian Tourist Commission does now. I will read a paragraph about what the Canadian Tourist Commission is doing at the present time:

The CTC is industry led and market driven. It is a consortium of Canadian private sector, provincial, territorial, regional and federal tourism partners who collaborate closely to match Canada's tourism products and services with customer demand...both regional and global...and to focus the Canadian industry's efforts as a whole. The CTC actively pursues partnership opportunities for its marketing, research, and industry and product development programs. Interested organizations or individuals are invited to contact the Commission with ideas and proposals. It should be noted, however, that the CTC does not provide grants or subsidies, nor does it act as a lobby group on behalf of the industry.

Could the hon. member explain how the new tourist commission, under the corporate banner of being a crown corporation, would in any way be different? Would it be more efficient? Would it do the same kinds of things? Would it do things differently? How does she see it operating? This is what is happening now. Is that bad? Does she not like it? What is the real advantage to forming a crown corporation?

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, the answer is quite simple. As I stated in my comments the tourism industry supports the change. I respect the individuals in the industry and their ability to decide what best suits them.

The industry supports the change. The provinces support the change. The staff supports the change. I would only have to question why members of the House would not respect individuals in the industry who should obviously know what is best for their industry.

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10:15 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my compliments to the member on her speech. I have a concern that is perhaps a bit more general. Just recently on November 1 we saw the Department of Revenue Canada become an agency. While it is not entirely a crown corporation, it is certainly moving in that direction.

The number of crown corporations is growing. For example, Nav Canada took over the navigation services of Transport Canada. It is supposedly a non-profit entity right now. It is interesting the Museum of Nature is a crown corporation. These corporations are arm's length from the government but their arms are about an inch and a half long.

We have distorted the meaning of a corporation by setting up an agency of the government, dependent on the government for funding, with board members most often appointed by the government. The distinction between a crown corporation and a department or government agency is so small that it makes me wonder why we are going through these motions.

As we look at Bill C-5 it strikes me that we are going through much the same motions, as though we are singing the hit tune of the day. What will the consequences be for the government in establishing these corporations? More particularly what will be the consequences for these corporations and those they serve when in fact the government is still running the show under a different guise?

Could the member respond to my dilemma with setting up crown corporations which are so close to the government that arm's length is a meaningless term?

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, we have to be clear. Reform has always taken the position that if there is a government connection it is no good.

As I asked the colleague who questioned me prior, who are we to tell individuals in the industry what is good for them? We in the House are supposed to listen to the people we represent and bring their concerns here, not vice versa. We are not supposed to inflict our personal beliefs on individuals within industry.

When I hear that the staff supports it, the provinces support it and, more important, the people in the industry support it, that is certainly good enough for me and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party.

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10:20 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does a pretty good job of turning the question around, and I compliment her on that.

Has she ever asked why the industry is supporting this approach? Why is the staff supporting this approach? Why does this seem to be something different? Is it better? If the functions are the same, if the objectives are the same and if the CTC is operating effectively now, why would a crown corporation be more effective than the present commission?

Judd Buchanan, present chairman of the CTC, was a very strong Liberal cabinet minister in the Trudeau regime. He does his work for $1 a year. If the crown corporation is established, does that mean that the president of the corporation will work for $1 a year? Is one of the reasons the staff is supporting it that their salaries will rise? Why is it supporting it? Could the member answer that question?

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have real concerns with where Reformers keep coming from with respect to their questions. We are talking about the creation of a crown corporation. We all know, certainly those of us from Cape Breton, the Reform position with regard to Devco. If Reformers had their way they would fell all crown corporations and leave all Canadians on their own. Those that survive, great and those that sink, too bad.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

Free enterprise.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

The member says “free enterprise”. What, then, is our responsibility to individuals in the industry? In my home town in Cape Breton a number of individuals depend on the tourism industry for their bread and butter. The member asks why they feel this is better. As I have said before, they are the people in the industry.

I am not a tourist operator. I respect why they are saying this is best for them. I do not understand why Reformers would take the position that they do not think it is good and therefore inflict their beliefs on the industry.

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10:20 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to explain very specifically why we in the Reform do not think this is a good bill.

The reason that individuals are supporting the crown corporation concept is simple. It is likely that a lot more money will be spent on the institution but there will be less accountability. When members of parliament try to get information from the access to information department on crown corporations, we run into a virtual roadblock because crown corporations do not have to be accountable for the way they run their business.

I do not think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that private business can do a job better than government can. Under the current set up we have a program that is directly responsible to parliament through the Department of Industry. We do not want to see that taken away from us. We do not want to see the accountability taken out of this place and given to an untouchable board.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague make the remark that the creation of a crown corporation would mean more money.

We on this side of the House do not have any problem at all in investing in small businesses across the country. When I listen to members of the Reform, their position has always been let us sell off everything in the country and allow those who can survive to survive and those who cannot to waste away.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jim Jones Progressive Conservative Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to an issue that is fundamentally vital to the Canadian economy, the issue of tourism. Bill C-5 is an initiative that will see the Canadian Tourism Commission transformed from its present status as a special operating agency into that of a crown corporation.

The Canadian Tourism Commission was originally set up in 1994 by order in council and under the guidance of the Department of Industry. Its mandate is to manage, plan and implement programs that generate and promote tourism in Canada.

The bill before us represents an evolutionary step in the process by turning the agency into a crown corporation. Such a change will result in many fundamental differences, all of which are designed with the intent of providing greater flexibility to the CTC, thus allowing it to better serve the tourism industry.

Most of the components contained in the bill are without controversy. For instance, there seems to be broad support offered by the provinces. This support is predicated upon several factors.

First, the act gives a legislative mandate to the function of marketing Canada as a tourism destination. That mandate specifies a significant role for industry, provinces and territories in national tourism marketing. This role of the provinces raises a few questions as to why we are not respecting the equality of all provinces in the bill, but I will touch on them later.

The second reason provincial governments seem inclined to support the bill centres around the restrictions placed on the CTC specifically. The commission may not initiate or finance programs involving the acquisition or construction of real property, immovables or facilities related to tourism. This ensures that the commission's interest will be focused on marketing. In the past federal tourism funds have somehow been used with mixed success on facility development programs.

The third and most important reason has to do with the perceived commitment by the federal government to have the marketing of tourism led by industry rather than by government. I say perceived because as the legislation presently stands the corporation will be made up of 26 directors.

Sixteen of the directors will be appointed by the Minister of Industry and will serve at the pleasure of the minister. The other 10 directors will essentially be made up of provincial deputy ministers of tourism or their equivalent. I am doing the math and it does not look good for the provinces. Worse still is the notion that the minister maintains a comfortable majority on the board by having 16 pleasure appointments that he can yank whenever one steps out of line. Honestly everybody wants to rule the world but we must protect against this.

When I reviewed the stated objectives of the bill I was not struck by any intentions that would be overtly out of line. The CTC objectives include sustaining a vibrant and profitable Canadian tourism industry; marketing Canada as a desirable tourist destination; providing information about Canada's tourism to the private sector; and supporting a co-operative relationship among the private sector, the Government of Canada, the provinces and the territories. No alarm bells here.

How can these initiatives be achieved if the deck is stacked against provincial representatives to begin with? If the true intention is to sustain a vibrant industry we should not introduce a predetermined barrier to that dynamic.

I want to make clear that I am not discussing patronage. I do not question the intention of the minister. The reality of the situation is clear. Provincial representatives will certainly watch out for their own regional issues.

However, even if all provincial governments are in agreement on a specific policy, the minister maintains a very heavy hammer to pound in order to achieve what he wants. This is not enough for my party to oppose the bill at this time, although I look forward to exploring this further at the committee stage.

Another point in this bill that concerns not only myself but also the tourism minister of Prince Edward Island is the regional representation breakdown for the appointed directors. The bill, in clause 11, delineates six different regions of the country. They are as follows: the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Alberta, which is combined with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and British Columbia, which is combined with the Yukon.

Bill C-5 does not respect the fundamental equality of all provinces and that will be explored further. However, there is another issue that I want to raise, which has to do with the relative importance of tourism to the economies of the individual provinces. While the gross figure for revenue generated by Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia may not come close to those generated by other provinces, their tourism dollars as a percentage of GDP speak volumes for their need to have effective representation.

I raise these issues out of a desire to improve the bill and to respect the fundamental nature of Canada, but by and large the minister has done a commendable job in producing a bill that has such initial broad support. I have had positive feedback from the governments of Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island for the general aims and principles of the bill. Since those are provinces governed by members of my party, I know they are therefore quite reasonable and astute on such matters.

Tourism endures the peculiar legacy of being big business carried out by thousands of small operators. This commission is a very important initiative since tourism injects nearly $47 billion a year into our economy. These are not constant dollars that we can count on to be there year after year. We must do our part to assist tourism operators to grow their revenues.

In 1998 Canada witnessed a drop in visitors from some of our major overseas markets. Japan was down 14%, France was down 8% and Germany was down 5%. When we consider that tourism employs over 500,000 Canadians directly, plus a multitude of spin-off jobs, it is an industry that is too important to keep our hands at bay. Of course, an active hand does not mean an interventionist hand. I am aware that the minister understands that, which is why he is endeavouring to make it an industry driven venture. It is a difficult task, to be sure, especially when we consider that government nets 31 cents out of every tourism dollar spent in Canada. It is certainly an incentive that would have some advocate a more activist role for government. That is why my party is supportive of Bill C-5 and its less intrusive approach.

Tourism is Canada's 12th largest revenue generating industry, with 40% of that revenue generated in my home province of Ontario. Like many of my colleagues in the House, I have a vested interest in assisting this bill forward.

In order to understand and judge the viability and worth of any government project, I find it useful to start from the premise of what the situation would be if it did not exist. There is no need to reinvent the wheel to answer that question. All we need to do is look to our neighbours to the south where we see a situation that has a certain amount of disarray to it. The U.S. federal government did away with the U.S. travel and tourism authority at few years back. Now the U.S. tourism industry is actively lobbying for a new national body.

If we start from the premise that this body is absolutely necessary, and for the most part I think we are there, then it is incumbent upon us to get it right. We must be open to all input on proper structuring, especially from industry members themselves, since at present the private sector and the provinces are paying more than 50% of the tab.

In the limited time I have had to meet with stakeholders, it has become clear that we are just scratching the surface with tourism now. What we need to achieve is the creation of a commission that will allow the industry to maximize our potential growth areas with destination strategies and growth in areas like adventure travel and ecotourism. We also need to develop a strategy that will assist rural tourist operators in their ongoing struggle to obtain financing.

Obviously we are not going to be able to address such specific issues in an effective way as a parliamentary body. That is why I hold out such hope for this commission.

If we do our job properly, we will have a tourism commission that will be a model for other nations for years to come. That is why the Progressive Conservative Party is supporting Bill C-5 at second reading.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, the enthusiasm of the hon. member who just spoke is well directed. I think we all agree that the tourism industry in Canada is a very significant issue and that it has not been developed as well as it might have been. That goes without saying. I am a very strong proponent of supporting the development of the tourism industry. I agree with the hon. member.

How does the member see this crown corporation advancing the cause of tourism more effectively, more efficiently and more rapidly than is the case with the Canadian tourism commission that currently operates under Industry Canada?

There are 26 directors under the Canadian tourism commission at the present time, including the president and the director. That is exactly the same number that exists under the provisions of the new legislation to set up the crown corporation. The representation from the various parts of Canada, the provinces and the regions, is more or less the same, if not exactly the same. The way in which the distribution takes place as to which parts of the tourism industry ought to be represented is also the same.

Does the hon. member really believe that a crown corporation will more effectively meet the advancement of tourism in Canada?

I agree, that should be the case for Canadians. It ought to be happening. That is why the CTC was established in the first place.

Does the hon. member really believe that a crown corporation will be more effective and more cost effective than the current tourism commission?

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jim Jones Progressive Conservative Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my speech, I have some concerns about the composition of the board, with 16 members reporting to the federal minister and one member from each of the provinces reporting to the deputy minister.

However, by moving it from an agency of Industry Canada to a more autonomous body, a crown corporation, I think we have a better opportunity to exploit the opportunities that exist in tourism. It is a vital industry. Hopefully the industry will grow because of this corporation.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pursue this a bit further, and I thank the hon. member for his thoughtful presentation on this subject.

There will be 26 board members in the new corporation, as there are with the Canadian tourism commission. Sixteen of the board members will be appointed by the minister. There is already a majority, but then the remaining representatives will be appointed with advice.

I would like to know how this could possibly be seen as anything other than complete domination by the federal government. Where is the arm's length relationship? The federal government appoints the majority, appoints the remainder on advice, and it has the ability to rescind those appointments. It is totally dominated by the federal government.

I am not speaking against the need for tourism operators to have all the support they can get. Goodness knows, there is no part of the country that does not seek to enhance itself through tourism. It has been a wonderful advantage for Canadians and for people outside the country to come and know where and who we are, as we are, and to appreciate Canada and Canadians.

However, it seems to me that what we have here is a step backward from the limited accountability that even the Canadian tourism commission has, where the board is appointed by the minister, acts like a corporation and has a curtain between it and openness with the public. I fail to see how the corporation will be able to do more than the Canadian tourism commission does and at the same time have the same accountability.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jim Jones Progressive Conservative Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member from the Reform Party for his comments and his question. I have the same difficulty that he does with the composition of the board. As I said, there are six regions that the government is setting up. The provincial people will designate who would normally be the deputy minister of tourism for their particular province. I think it should be made more fair and that the composition of the board should change if we really want to advance tourism and ensure that every one of the six regions which are promoted in the bill has a powerful say at the table about what should be done.

This is a dynamic industry. It is probably a hidden asset for Canada which we can exploit. When I first saw the bill and received the presentation from the department, my initial concern was the composition of the board and it is still my concern.

However, at this point in time I am supporting the bill at second reading so that the bill can go to committee. I will be further addressing that issue because I have a concern in that area as well.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have today before us a bill that was first introduced in the last session. It is entitled an act to establish the Canadian tourism commission, which is part of Industry Canada. The government wants to give it crown corporation status.

I suppose the first question to be asked is exactly what does the Canadian tourism commission do and why does it need to be a crown corporation.

The CTC, or the Canadian tourism commission, was created in 1995 to promote Canadian tourism and establish partnerships with the private sector, the provinces and federal tourism partners. It uses the money it receives from various sources to do research and to market Canada as a travel destination.

The CTC receives an appropriation of about $65 million every year. Of that amount $12 million goes to salaries and overhead and approximately $52 million goes to promotion and product development. The tourism industry in Canada matches that amount, so that a total of about $130 million is spent annually. The CTC, by the way, has 62 employees in Ottawa.

To go a little further in the explanation of what the CTC is, it has a 26 member decision making board of directors which functions as a special operating agency in delivering the tourism mandate of the federal government. The board of directors is comprised mainly of private sector companies with direct interest in establishing Canada as a preferred tourist destination.

When I received a briefing on this bill from the CTC I was told that the commission wants to become a crown corporation because it feels constrained and cannot operate effectively within the government. It said that it cannot move quickly enough.

I guess I can be a bit sympathetic with that request. What part of government ever moved quickly enough?

I think there is ample evidence that crown corporations do not exactly have a sterling record of moving quickly either. It has been my experience that crown corporations can get away with a lot but I and many Canadians have never realized that they could actually move more quickly than government.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

An hon. member

Except when it comes to closure.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am reminded by my colleague that there is one area in which the government can certainly move quickly and that is when it brings closure to debate in the House. It is moving quickly to surpass the previous Tory government's record. It is going to blow by the Mulroney government in grand style within a matter of weeks on bringing closure to the House and stopping democratic debate. I thank my colleague for bringing that to my attention.

The Reform Party has a philosophical problem with crown corporations. We believe that ownership and control of corporations should be placed in the sector that can perform the task the most cost effectively with the greatest accountability to owners and the least likelihood of incurring more public debt or any public debt for that matter. There is overwhelming evidence this would be the private sector in the vast majority of cases. History has told us that a private sector organization or institution can perform far more effectively than any government arm or crown corporation could ever hope to do.

We believe that many crown corporations, as we have stated publicly a number of times, should either be privatized or go back to the departments that spawned them in the first place. Then the ministers who have them in their departments could be accountable to the people of Canada through the opposition, certainly through the official opposition, the Reform Party of Canada.

I think everyone knows that no party in the House has ever questioned the operation of crown corporations and demanded accountability more than the Reform Party of Canada has since we came here as an official party in 1993. We are proud of that record because we have the interests of Canadian taxpayers at heart. That is why we ask questions that no other party has ever bothered to ask. Those who have been members of the cozy country club that has existed for so many decades in Ottawa do not want to do anything to upset the people in that club. We are not in that club and we are proud of it. That is why we ask the tough questions.

The Reform Party will be opposing the bill. We feel that there is no good reason to give the Canadian Tourism Commission crown corporation status.

We do not know how much more money it will cost. We know that the chairman of the existing CTC which operates under the Department of Transport is paid $1 a year. Judd Buchanan, a long time Liberal, is working for $1 a year. We do not know what other compensation or perks he is getting but $1 a year sounds pretty good to us. Does anyone think for a minute that the new chairman of the crown corporation style CTC will want to work for $1 a year?

One has to wonder if there is not a friend of the Liberals out there that they have forgotten to reward since 1993. One has to imagine that the appointment of the head of that crown corporation is already picked. By golly, I think we would find that he is someone who is well known to the Prime Minister, to the Liberal government and to any of those members. It is a guarantee and I would be willing to put a few dollars on that appointment. It may even be a friend of the deputy government whip. She seems to be enjoying this part of the speech. Perhaps it is a friend of hers who helped with her campaign.

If a crown corporation is formed and the CTC is taken out of the responsibility of the Minister of Industry, we lose almost 100% of the accountability. This crown corporation will operate with an autonomy that will basically guarantee that it is going to be free from any inquiry through access to information as to how its operation goes and how it is spending its money. We do not want that to happen.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

An hon. member

Taxpayer money.

Canadian Tourism Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

The member from Surrey just reminded me that it is taxpayer money once again. I shudder to think that I have been here six years and I forget that important little point, and I do not.

The industry department issued a paper which supports the rapid divestiture of crown assets. This makes me wonder why the department is sponsoring the bill in the first place.

I refer to a paper in the House entitled “Canada in the 21st Century—Institutions in Growth—Framework Policy as a Tool of Competitive Advantage for Canada”. This sounds like it is going to cost Canadians a lot of money. If we start getting academics trying to figure out how to spend taxpayers' money, it could be a pretty sad situation.

The point is that in comparison to other OECD countries, Canada has had historically high levels of state ownership. In a country that is considered primarily a free enterprise country, a country where the people of Canada should take a role in private enterprise, the private sector and industry, Canada has a very unusually high level of state ownership. That is a little scary.

In 1986 the Economic Council of Canada reported that government owned and controlled companies accounted for 26% of the net fixed assets of all Canadian corporations in 1983. That is pretty astounding and pretty shocking. Yet these firms accounted for less than 5% of the total employment in the country. They accounted for 26% of the net fixed assets of all the Canadian corporations, yet less than 5% of the total employment. This adds even more credibility to the fact that the private sector is the best place to create jobs. The government should recognize that instead of trying to usurp the efforts of private sector industry in helping our economy.

These numbers do not say very much about the employment creation capacities of government owned crown corporations and companies. I would like to share my time with my colleague from the Okanagan.